|Better Farming Series 37 - Raising Rabbits 2: Feeding Rabbits; Raising Baby Rabbits; Further Improvement (FAO, 1988, 49 p.)|
|Feeding your rabbits|
131. Rabbits like to eat green plants, and fresh plants are best. However, during the times of year when there are few fresh plants, you can feed your rabbits dry plants.
Fresh pens; dry pens
132. Remember, if you want your rabbits to grow well and fast, you will have to feed them some rich foods as well.
133. When you were looking for rabbits to buy, you saw what they were being fed. So, you should have a good idea of the kinds of food that they eat.
134. Here is a list of foods that rabbits like to eat.
· nearly all green plants, and
especially rich plants such as bean plants and alfalfa
· many kinds of grass and weeds
· the outside leaves and the tops of vegetables
· lettuce, endive and chicory
· tender banana, cane and bamboo leaves
· cut- up pieces of the stalks of plants such as maize or banana
· roots such as cassava, yams, carrots, beets and turnips
· nearly all plants dried when they are green, including grass and weeds
· barley, maize, wheat, oats
field beans, rye, buckwheat millet and sorghum
· cottonseed, groundnut, coconut, linseed and sesame cakes.
135. If you have some food that you think might be good, give your rabbits a little of it. If they like it, you can begin to give it to them.
Give little of the new food
136. However, a sudden change of food may make your rabbits sick. So, when you give them something new, give it to them little by little for a week or more until they become used to it.
The leaves of the potato or the tomato plant may make your rabbits sick.
Potato plant; tomato plant
137. You have already learned that rabbits eat at night as well as during the day. So, you must be sure that they have enough to eat all of the time.
138. The best time to feed rabbits is once early in the morning and once in the evening, before it is dark.
139. Each time you feed your rabbits, put fresh or dry plant materials in the plant feeder, and put some of the rich food that you are using, such as crushed maize, in the grain feeder.
Fresh or dry material and food
140. If you are feeding your rabbits any larger foods, such as sections of banana stalk or whole carrots, beets or yams, you can put them on the floor of the pen.
Put food on the floor of the pen
141. Rabbits need different amounts of food at different times in their lives.
Differen amount of food at different times in rabbits life
142. The following items will help you learn how much to feed your rabbits.
143. Female rabbits, when they are not having babies, and male rabbits, when they are not mating, need much less food.
Less food needed when not mating
144. They must be given enough food to keep them strong and healthy but not so much that they get fat.
145. Female rabbits that are fat do not have babies easily. Male rabbits that are fat are lazy and do not want to mate.
146. Female rabbits that are going to have babies need more food, and after their babies are born they need much more food.
147. Once you know that a female is going to have babies, give her as much food as she can eat.
Give pregnant female as much food as she can eat
148. She will have to eat for herself and for the babies inside her. After the babies are born, she will have to be able to produce a lot of rich milk for them.
She has to produce a lot of milk
149. So, watch your rabbits carefully to see how much they need to eat and how they grow. You will have to learn by your own experience just how much to give them.
150. If you see that your rabbits do not eat all of their food, give them a little less.
151. If you see that your rabbits eat all of their food, give them a little more unless they are too fat.
152. You will learn what baby rabbits eat in the next section in this booklet, Raising your own baby rabbits.
153. You must be careful that the food you feed your rabbits is very clean or it may make them sick.
154. Never gather green food from places made dirty by other animals.
Never gather green food from dirty places
155. Never give your rabbits food that is mouldy or dusty. Even food that was once clean, such as dry hay, grass or grain, can become mouldy or dusty after only a very short time.
Never give your rabbits mouldy or dusty food
156. You must also be careful not to feed your rabbits food that is sour or spoiled because it may make them sick.
157. Never give your rabbits fresh green food that has been standing in piles. Fresh green food left standing becomes spoiled very quickly.
Never give your rabbits fresh green food that has been standing in piles
158. If you are going to keep green food even for a very few hours after it has been cut, spread it out and turn it over from time to time so that it will not become warm, sour or spoiled.
159. If you build a rack like the one shown below, you can dry green food completely so that you can use it later when you cannot find fresh food.
When the green food is dry, you can tie it in bundles and hang it in a place where it will stay dry and clean.